Assessing presidential prospects

A Christian Science perspective: As presidential candidates' campaigning increases, what's a citizen's role in contributing to good government?

Headlines about US presidential candidates and the presence of political pollsters are increasing as the season of primary elections approaches. What do citizens want from the candidates, whoever they turn out to be?

When speaking of government, the founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, was clear when she wrote, “The government of a nation is its peace maker or breaker” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 282). She also said, “The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations” (p. 277).

What are we expecting of the characters and lives of our elected leaders? Good leadership. And when deciding whom to vote for, what should we expect of ourselves? Well, not groupthink.

Good leaders are proactive. They lead. They want to make things better, so they aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. They are honest and eager to make a difference. They set high standards and stick to them, passionately live by them, and encourage others to participate. Thinking about these leadership qualities brings to mind the greatest leader of all, Christ Jesus. Jesus’ leadership was remarkable. Even today people are striving to put into practice the spiritual truths he taught 2,000 years ago.

Jesus showed his own good leadership when he taught his disciples to think for themselves. One day, in a conversation with Jesus, Peter asked Jesus what John should do about a certain matter. In one of his most deliberate directions, Jesus answered: “What is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:22). To me, Jesus was saying, “Think for yourself.”

Groupthink is characterized by a leaning toward conformity to prevailing points of view. Independent thinking takes courage and faith. Self-government is spiritual. Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Reflecting God’s government, man is self-governed” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 125).

What does it mean to reflect God’s government? In this mental atmosphere of truth and freedom, thinking is independent and lines up with that which is of God, good. It will lean toward conformity, but it will be in conformity with God’s point of view: “God think,” not groupthink. It will be about what is right, not who is right. It will be about principle, not person.

Taking this approach can do much to support that which is good in government. It can foster trust and soften partisanship. This kind of support can be a living prayer, a prayer beyond words that we can pray for our country.

I’m reminded of a special prayer in the “Manual of the Mother Church,” the "Daily Prayer." The first part of this devotion is, “ ‘Thy kingdom come;’ let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me,...” Praying for ourselves is a good start, but this prayer is all-inclusive, complete. It concludes, ”and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!” (p. 41).

Imagine how much more successful any president would be when supported by a people who have enriched affection for God, for the presidency, for the president, and for all humanity.

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